And his disciples came to him, and awoke him, saying, Lord, save us: we perish (Matthew 8:25).
In Matthew’s account of Christ in the tempest in Matthew 8:23-27, we have the setting (v. 23), the crisis (v. 24), the appeal (v. 25), the intervention (v. 26), and the reaction (v. 27).
Let’s examine the appeal of the disciples, which begins “And his disciples came to him, and awoke him….” (v. 25a).
This is a reminder that the disciples of Christ can always come to their Master in the times of their distress. In Matthew 28:11 Christ will say to his followers: “Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.” We must not hesitate to come to him.
Notice the petition or prayer that the disciples offer. This is a model prayer for the individual who is seeking salvation from the Lord. It is also a model corporate prayer for the church, as it cries out for the Lord to deliver his flock from trouble.
The petition has two parts:
First, there is crying out to God for salvation: “Lord, save us.”
Later in Matthew 14, Christ will come walking to the disciples on the sea and invite Peter to come and walk to him. As fear grips Peter, he will cry out, “Lord save me” (14:30).
Peter had an individual prayer for salvation. Here, it is all the disciples petitioning Christ for their collective salvation. There is no more fundamental prayer for the disciple or church. Lord save me. Lord save us.
Second, there is an acknowledgement of the state of their need: “we perish.”
This is a declaration of the believer’s state apart from Christ. We are perishing. The same verb appears in the classic verse John 3:16 when it says, “that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.”
Why are we perishing? Because the wages of sin is death (Rom 6:23).
If you doubt that we are perishing, go and look at some old photographs. Go to your class reunion and wonder where all these old people came from. You’re still the same age (at least in your mind!). The truth is we are all perishing. The Puritan era preacher Richard Baxter famously said that he preached as a dying man to dying men.
Christ, however, is with us in the tempest. And we can call on him. Do you have trouble knowing how or what to pray? Let me offer a suggestion. Take the words of the disciples and use them. Say them over and over again, till they become like your breath: “Lord save us: we perish.” And see if Christ will not arise and rebuke the winds and the sea and give to you a mega calm.
Grace and peace, Pastor Jeff Riddle